Chicago public schools watchdog finds over 300 instances of child grooming, assault

A report from the Chicago Public Schools Office of the Inspector General showed that over 300 instances of child sexual grooming and assault by teachers and staff including administrators were substantiated over the 2021-2022 school year in the district.

One administrator was fired after it came to light that they took a high school junior on several trips, including abroad, and groped her sexually after taking her to a Broadway play.

One teacher who was accused of sexually assaulting a girl three times when she was 17, was acquitted at trial even though there was evidence of the crimes.

Staff member threatened family of student he abused

Another JROTC staff member reportedly had sex with a girl for a year when she was 16 and 17 years old, gave her marijuana, and had her purchase it for them. When he found out he was being investigated, he threatened the girl and her family.

Eventually, he pleaded guilty to sexual assault and abuse and was sentenced to time served and four years of probation.

Some of the staff texted students hundreds or thousands of times, including texts of a sexual nature.

A high school gym teacher also exposed himself to a student.

District supports investigations

Mary Fergus, executive director of media relations for the school district, told Fox Digital that the district supports investigations into any misconduct by its 40,000 staff.

“As a District, we take seriously our responsibility to serve our families with integrity and to address individuals who breach CPS policies and the public’s trust and hold them accountable,” she said. “CPS will continue to ensure our District policies and procedures support the highest ethical standards to ensure our valued team members act in the best interest of our students.”

She also said the district has taken action against staff members that engaged in wrongdoing.

ABC7 reported that out of over 500 misconduct allegations, more than 300 of which the watchdog found to be substantiated, 16 adult staff members were eventually charged. This means most of the incidents were not followed up on or punished adequately, leaving hundreds of students every year to be preyed upon by the significant adults in their lives.

The level of complaints had lessened during COVID-19, but has now returned to pre-pandemic levels.

Other problems

Other problems highlighted by the watchdog report included many truant, missing, or dropped-out students being improperly reported as transfers, which is a violation of state laws. Misreporting students in this way yields inaccurate data about retention and graduation rates that make the school district look better than it actually is in these areas.

Overtime pay was also flagged as an increasing problem in the district, with the report noting a 74% increase over the last five years as well as problems in the tracking and oversight of these areas.